The Underdog's Journey: Lessons in Overcoming Adversity

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David Pt. 1

Based On A True Story 1

This series of posts is from a Flatirons series from 2016 called “Based On A True Story”. To hear and learn more, feel free to watch that series on


In this series, we are going to be looking at some very famous Bible stories. Odds are that you have heard these tons of times before, even if you aren’t a Christian. And when stories like these become so popular, or you have heard them over and over again for your entire life, you start to think that there is nothing else that can be learned from them other than what you have already learned. We tend to dumb them down to one-dimensional moral lessons. So that’s the first reason we are looking at these stories: to really look at them and see if God is trying to teach us something else other than what we have always been taught.

The second reason we are looking at these stories is even better. I truly believe these stories actually happened. I do not think they are myths or legends. I know that not everyone will agree with me on that and that’s fine. But I truly believe they happened. I also believe that the God who is involved in these stories never changes. These stories aren’t so much about the men and women who were able to do something because of how special they were. They weren’t extra spiritual or superheroes. These stories are ultimately about God and how He used people in these stories to do something amazing through them. And since I believe that these stories actually happened, and that God never changes, I want to look at these stories through the lens of “could something like that be possible in my life, today?”

Despite our failures, weaknesses, and insecurities, could God still do something amazing in our lives? Let’s look at these stories and see if what was true for “Bible people” might still be true for us today.

David and Jesse

Let’s start by looking at one of the most famous characters in the Old Testament, David. David is famous for many things, including being the second king of Israel, winning a bunch of battles, having an affair with Bathsheba, and writing a bing chunk of the book of Psalms. Perhaps his most famous accomplishment was defeating Goliath when he was still a boy. We will get to that story in the next post, but first, I want to focus on some other aspects of David’s early life.

1 Samuel 16 tells the story of how David was anointed king. To paraphrase, the current king, Saul, wasn’t doing a very good job. So God picked someone else and sent a prophet named Samuel to go and find him as he’s been told he is one of the sons of David’s father, Jesse.. During the process, Jesse brings out all his sons except his youngest (which was David). We don’t really get the whole reason in the pages of Scripture of why this happens, though there are hints. However, Jewish history and tradition may help shed some more light. (Disclaimer: I am not claiming that Jewish history and tradition from outside sources other than the Bible are 100% reliable or God-ordained, like the Bible is. It does, however, help us in understanding some of the context around what is going on in some parts of the Bible.)

Jewish tradition tells us that Jesse, David’s father, suspected that David was the result of an affair that his wife had. It’s a long and complicated story, reminiscent of a soap opera, but to summarize: Jesse had separated from his wife after having seven sons. He then attempted to have another son with his servant, but the servant and Jesse’s wife, who didn’t want to separate, conspired to trick Jesse into having sex with her again and having an eighth son. This works, and David’s mom becomes pregnant with David. But Jesse doesn’t think he ever had sex with her, so he now thinks that David is a bastard son, so he vows to treat him like a slave his whole life. There is a lot more to it than that, but that’s the gist of everything. And it gives us more context as to why, when Samuel comes to Jesse’s house, Jesse doesn’t bring out David.

David wasn’t just the youngest son; he was hated by his fathers and brothers. They thought of him as a disgrace and a stain on the family. Psalm 69, written by David, tells us that David was the butt of all their jokes, and that they would try to poison his food. David was a very sad boy who was often forgotten, ridiculed, and neglected by the very people who were supposed to love him the most. 

However, God had something in store for him. Before Samuel ever went to meet all of Jesse’s sons, God had already picked David out. Several chapters before we ever meet David, it is mentioned that God has already picked out the next king, describing him as “ a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). So, before anything changes in David’s life, while he was still out there being forgotten by his father and brothers, God had a plan for his life. He was probably thinking that his life would never change, that he would always be an outcast. 

But God had already picked him out. And on paper, David had no qualifications. No no one liked him. He was the most insignificant member of his entire family, and his family never let him forget it. But apparently the qualifications that God is looking for do not include his status in life, his ability, appearance, accomplishments, GPA, or amount of points scored in a game. That’s not even on the list.

Apparently all God’s looking for is somebody that’s looking for Him.


1 Samuel 16 continues with David finally being invited to the party and Samuel blowing everyone’s minds by picking and anointing little David to be the next king of Israel. God had a plan all along for David’s life, even in the midst of doubt, neglect, and suffering.

And perhaps you are feeling similar. This entire story might feel like a huge “me too” for you. You don’t have to go too far to connect the dots of this story to your own, except maybe that you don’t know if God is actually going to show up for you like He did for David.

But like I said before: God never changes. The same God in this story is still here, looking for people who are looking for Him.


  • The God who was involved in the stories of famous “Bible people” never changes and is still active in our lives today.

  • David was a sad, forgotten boy that never stopped running after God despite all his hardships. He was described as “a man after God’s own heart.”

  • The only qualification that God is looking for in someone He can use is for that someone to be looking for God.


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